Episode 28: Cosmos Troupe (宙組)

Becca, Carly, Jen, and Soragumi expert Julie (in her first recorded episode!) talk about the history of Cosmos troupe!

Correction: Julie mentioned that Aran Kei only guest starred in Soragumi during Phantom, but she also appeared in Lightning in the Daytime.

Links to things mentioned in the podcast:

Visual for Ryuu Masaki’s album
Official Takarazuka Revue English website

Select performances mentioned:

All for One
Elisabeth 1998
Phantom 2004
W-Wing
Never Say Goodbye
Boxman
Sketches from the Life of Ryoma Sakamoto
Singin’ in the Rain 2008
Paradise Prince
Phoenix Wright
Elisabeth 2009
Shakespeare/HOT EYES!!
A Motion

Actresses

Top star chart (All Soragumi mentioned)
Hanakage Arisu
Nagina Ruumi
Nanaho Hikaru
Harukaze Misato
Kotobuki Tsukasa
Kazuki Sora
Yuumi Hiro

Glossary:

shinjin kouen / shinko: Every performance shown at the Takarazuka Grand Theater / Tokyo Takarazuka Theater has one night when the junior stars of the troupe (ken 7 and under) perform in the lead roles. It provides the junior stars with valuable stage experience and public exposure.

11 thoughts on “Episode 28: Cosmos Troupe (宙組)”

  1. Ugh, I sound like I keep interrupting people DX Maybe I was, but also I think my voice track is a little ahead of everyone else’s. Sorry I was dominating the conversation so much!!

    I had a little nitpick about something I said, lol, so here’s a longer explanation in a comment… When Zunko retired and Wao became top, Mizu was transferred in from Hanagumi. Around the same time, a bunch of people were being transferred out to New Senka, including Wataru and Juri. They both appeared in prominent roles in Wao’s Grand Theater debut show, ‘Boukyou wa Umi o Koete’, before doing New Senka things in other troupes. Juri had a Bow/Seinenkan lead with Soragumi in 2000, and then Mizu did in 2001. From 2001 – 2002, there were still New Senka guests which gave us Saeko and Mizu switching Oscar/Andre in Berubara ’01, and Iori Naoka and Naruse Kouki guest-starring in ‘Castel Mirage’, with Wataru & Juri also appearing in a role-switch (Wataru in the Grand Theater and Juri in Tokyo).

    By 2002 ‘Hououden’, things settled more clearly into “Wao is top and Mizu is nibante”. (Speaking of Calaf & Turandot, I rewatched it the other night and it will be interesting to see it with Tamakichi and Chapi *____* I really want to see Chapi-chan do the thing where Turandot just laughs triumphantly and chews up the scenery for 5 minutes as Calaf tries to guess the riddles…)

    Anyway, that’s my long-winded explanation! I have lots of ideas for podcasts, so thank you for bearing with me and I hope I get to do lots more! Yoroshiku~ m(__)m

  2. Thank you for such a thorough episode! Just popping in to comment a bit on troupe character. I tried really hard to not to overlap with anything that was said, so I really apologize if there’s something I missed in that regard, I don’t want to step on any toes >人<;

    One of the things I find most amazing about Soragumi is that even though it’s such a young troupe is has such a rich and defined character, that despite all of the shifting and turnover it appears to remain quite steady at it’s core. I especially loved hearing that quote from Kacha, as even in the face of immense change era to era, the things that Soragumisei and directors say about the troupe is extremely consistent and much of what defines them can be traced back to the way they were born and their early (and continuing) circumstances.

    So first on Soragumi in response to change, something that’s said quite often about Soragumi is that they are especially adaptive, both in melding with new people in-troupe and in taking on the “color” of the current top. While it is certainly true of every troupe that with each new top comes a new atmosphere reflecting their style, Soragumi is often said to take on the qualities of the top star most dramatically. You can see this really clearly currently as Soragumi has strongly taken on both the warmth and “charai” nature of Asaka Manato. I think you can also start seeing them take on the “yurui” nature of Makaze Suzuho, and though of course we’re not quite there yet I agree it’s really exciting to look towards the future right now!

    On that note, that forward facing optimistic attitude always seems to be cited as an integral to the Soragumi atmosphere, tying heavily into the energy of their roots, and illustrated by two of their most well known songs 「未来へ」 and 「明日へのエナージー」 Soragumisei often say that they “won’t lose in genki-ness to anyone,” in regards to that upbeat energy and specifically their stated tendency to not get weighed down too much or to bounce back quickly when they do. Yuuhi commented upon transferring that she was impressed by the way that “everyone just did what they needed to do” which probably has a lot to do with this attitude.

    Personality wise, Soragumisei are also said to be very “pure,” in that they are generally very straightforward and true to themselves. The non-traditional nature of Soragumi onstage and off likely encourages this. On a side note: I think the word experimental which gets used quite a lot often has people thinking Soragumi is supposed to be the “wild and weird” troupe when it’s probably closer to the more encompassing “modern” (which can certainly be wild and weird sometimes haha). You guys talked about a ton of examples onstage, so I’ll just mention one way I’ve seen this cited in Graph/Kageki concerning offstage culture, that on Valentine’s Day in Yukigumi, who are encouraged to uphold Japanese tradition, generally only musumeyaku bring chocolates, whereas in Soragumi it’s not uncommon for otokoyaku to make chocolate as well.

    Energy was talked about quite a lot, so I’ll just throw in phrase often used to sum up Soragumi’s character: “the energy of different people coming together,” directly referencing the way that they originally formed from the other troupes. Tomochin has often talked about the exciting energy of that time having a huge impact on her, so maybe unsurprisingly we can see that same philosophy is still considered important to their character going forward, perhaps best illustrated by comparing them to Hoshigumi, another “energy” troupe. While Hoshigumi aims to be (to my understanding) more along the lines of “power” and “the energy of becoming one,” Soragumi aims more towards that forward facing genkiness (which is of course that “fresh energy” you guys talked about a lot!) and retaining more individual character (you could say they retain that “pure” quality) in an ensemble while still forming a strong group.

    Another thing mentioned quite a lot was height, and I can confirm that at least as recently as last year we’ve retained the tallest height average among otokoyaku, with Hoshigumi in second, and though the gap has closed a bit, I suspect that trend to continue as we’ve been consistently getting mostly middling tall (172-175cm) babies. We’re unfortunately not getting the super talls anymore, but that’s probably for the best in order to emphasize the limbs everywhere else (Tomochin and Masako could make anyone look tiny =P). Being the Tall Troupe is sometimes said to help give them a more mature/adult feel.

    Soragumi’s astronomical heights also help to maximize their overall impact. This is another word used often when describing them, no doubt owing in large in part to their sheer size. It’s really something to have all those lengthy limbs hitting you in the gut with a kuroenbi (metaphorically of course XD”). Energy again plays a big role here as well, as does their Chorus. Soragumi is very well known for having a strong chorus, something that not only patrons but Sora babies and transfers alike are said to be blown away by and soon want to be a working part of. The most amazing part about this to me is that even with less than half a troupe onstage it still hits you like a truck in a way that sticks with you long after the show ends.

    …sorry that ended up so long winded ^^;; They’re just such a dynamic, fully formed troupe that often feels to be glossed over as still just finding their feet, both on account of being young and having gone through so much ostensive change in their short life, even though that in itself is something that has both built and become a reflection of what defines that unmistakable Soragumi Spirit. One reason I think Maasama has been such an astronomical leader is that she always appears so determined to carry on what is now fairly long standing Soragumi non-traditional tradition (though I do also suspect it’s been alive and well all along, they’re quite a true hearted bunch!).

    Again, thank you guys for your hard work and I’m sorry if any of this felt at all rehashed. m(._.)m

    Back to my black hole…

    1. Yozora, don’t go into your black hole! I appreciate your long-winded comment — I can tell you love Soragumi so much!! Be my friend *____* <3 <3 <3 (Are you on Tumblr / Twitter?)

      One of the things you said reminded me — I don't remember if it was the same Kacha shinko talk, or a different interview about 'Casablanca', but someone brought up Soragumi's "chorus" power then too. Shows like 'Never Say Goodbye' and 'Casablanca' really hit you with the full force of that 一体感… Like you said, they have that feeling of "we won't lose to anyone" in terms of their raw energy and power as a group.

      Thank you so much for all your thoughts!! It really does warm my heart that you have so much to say about Soragumi's spirit <33333

  3. My favorite troupe is Tsukigumi but a close second is Soragumi. My all time favorite pair is Wao/Hana and my all time favorite production is Kiss to the Flames/Neovoyage. If you haven’t seen this see it now!
    I completely missed the Tani years because I really didn’t like her voice and was happy to see that improved when I saw Chicago.
    Loved the Oozora years since she was a favorite of mine from Tsukigumi. I was really disappointed when the Oozora lovers from the troupe either were transferred out or retired when Kaname was going to take over.
    I’m looking forward to the Makaze years and I think they’ll be great.

  4. Thank you for another fun episode.
    And nice to meet you, Julie. I am very impressed about your big love for Soragumi.
    To speak of my experience, I’ve been carefully watching Soragumi since Tani-chan’s ( Yamato Yuga ) era. Because my Aichan was her personal assistant. ( some may already know, I am a good friend of Aichan.
    Since then, Soragumi is a very special troupe for me.
    It will be very exciting for the new Soragumi, especially KIKI would join.

    Anybody needs tickets for Soragumi show, please let me know.

  5. Wow this is probably your longest episode to date…? But Soragumi! Someone has been trying to convert me into a Soragumi fan for sometime. I’m drawn to this troupe ever since I saw Elisabeth.
    I have a silly question:
    When Soragumi was formed, did Hankyu transfer roughly 10 – 20 takarasienne from each of the existing troupes to populate Soragumi? Or maybe at the start, Soragumi was operating with fewer members than the other troupes and Hankyu gradually added people in over the years?

    1. Soragumi had the right number of members from the start, so they did transfer a lot! It wasn’t necessarily an equal number from each troupe but they did transfer people from every troupe.

  6. Thank you all again for another wonderful podcast!! This was a great primer for me since I feel like I need to become more familiar with Soragumi with Kiki’s upcoming transfer haha. I too had become quite fond of the troupe and Maa-kun recently after seeing a few shows on DVD and Elisabeth live last year, so it was really wonderful and a little heartbreaking to be seeing her taidan show a couple weeks ago. Even though I only really know the top handful of members, I could really feel the wonderful unique energy of the troupe in Kamigami and especially in Classical Bijou. I am also very excited for the future of the troupe, especially for its 20th anniversary next year!

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